Saturday, July 23, 2011

A propos of several cliches, two allusions, and self-deception

At 3 am Easter morning

the stray goose honks

weakly and in despair

on its way north. What I hear

in the hollow between its

sound and my ear

is just a world that words

capture in their net, mere poetry

rooting sentiment

in the chatter of an unquiet self.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Aspasia serves all Athens
with whores and blow jobs,
sparking war, says Aristophanes,
to supply her paramour,
Pericles, with soft lips
and deep throats. That satyr
Socrates also a john, who
Alkibiades, beautiful, rich,
powerful Alkiabiades, could
not seduce. What words pass
between Greece's wisest man,
and the business woman
who holds the balls
of the state by the color
of a pretty girl's eyes?
and who even her enemies
praise for her power of debate?
On such secrets is history
made and the myth
the powerful use to rule
maintained, as Plato knows
when he writes her out
of the dialog.

copyright 2011 Charles David Miller

Saturday, July 16, 2011

She left with the promise still in the air

She left with the promise
still in the air.

I could smell it on my clothes,
it scented my hair,
and brought with it
the dream of a face
on a beach where
toes curl in foam
and the sand scrabbles
words that the black
iris in her mouth
painted on city walls.

She left with the words
ringing in my ear.
When she said them
I knew they were too good
to be true. Their truth
a memory of dialogs
in a play with no exit,
with the color of dirt
dug from the bottom
of a grave. They had
that finality to them
that only the dawn
sun knows in rising
or the clouds
that ramble to
heaven without end.

She left with my soul
in her teeth. Raw and bitter
with the taste of a cigar
whose butt end has gone
stale from the gutter.
She left a letter with my name
on it, but the vowels
were missing and the rest
stuck in the throat
like a curse in a dead
tongue. They clanked
at the back of her teeth
but would not come--
that promise and its echo
whose fetish lay
stuck with needles
in a tree bent
and haggard
from the lake wind.

She left with the promise
on an answering machine
and the phone calls
returned clicked off.
The phone wires
still hum with the breath
of our lovemaking.
In digital time,
the ones and zeroes
expire by the billions
when they recall
the prayers we made
that love never end.

The promise exuded
the scent of our bowels,
the odor of cunt and dick,
the excrescence
of boundaries
as they vanished
in emotions
that never lie,
in trembling
that never ends.

The promise bore
in its womb
the sound of lambs
and geese and the whistle
of frogs mating
in the marshy Spring.
It brought to life
the dead in their
terror, and the living
in their fear. For fear
is what you cannot deny,
and terror the fact
whose face tells
a lie that is not false.

She left with a promise
still in the air.

Sonnet for Dora, Albuquerque, ca. 1995

He dragged your grandmother to the market place
the man, grandfather, with ice in his voice.
"They act like he's a hero," you told me once
when we saw his photograph and his gang
proudly displayed in the conference hall.
Gray-haired, lonely, mourning ghosts, you recall
the crime in the car near church and tremble
with a question to God you never sang.
In the high desert sun, when dogs don't dream,
he pulled her by the hair through cactus and dust,
another man's fish swimming in his stream,
and opened her throat with a knife and threat
that made the town deaf to a woman's blood,
the fear that entombs what shame can't forget.